Read our writer's views on this property below
Play Shack 2, Merrijig, Victoria.
Merrijig boasts just about the happiest place name in Australia. Walt Disney couldn't have done better than this stretch of Victoria's High Country, with its bustling towns, babbling brooks and rolling green mountain pastures. Wild deer loiter by the road leading to Play Shack 2, which sits on a lush acre in the shadow of Mount Buller. The four-bedroom riverfront property won the Stayz award for Australia's best family accommodation in 2015, largely because of its child-friendly outdoor activities and cracking games room. It's a short drive to the mountain-top, which is busy year-round with ski sports, mountain biking and people seeking mobile phone reception.
There's no understating the joy of having a river running off your back lawn. A small swimming hole makes for a pretty plunge pool, if you don't mind the chill. Play Shack 2 (one of five local properties owned by interior/exterior designer Suzanne Theodor) was converted from a 1970s log cabin into a striking two-storey home, which would comfortably fit three families. Perched at one end is a glass-walled games room, where we taught the kids how to play Pac-Man. Everything you need for an easy family holiday is here, from high chairs, colouring-in paper and bicycles, through to spare ski clothes in the drying room. There's a separate two-bedroom cabin on the property for extra guests.
We opted for one of the cosy king-sized bedrooms on the bottom floor, with a view of the river and hills. The room is smart rather than spectacular, with an efficient heating system that kept us warm overnight. The log-cabin walls feel like you're sleeping in a hunting lodge, while the narrow mirror on the wall flatters any figure. There's a separate room with six basic bunk beds for children. A large en suite bedroom sits at the other end of the house, by the games room. So long as you don't mind being woken at dawn by people playing Pac-Man.
The open kitchen is well stocked with essentials but you'll need to stop at a supermarket in nearby Mansfield for supplies. While there, enjoy a smooth house-roasted coffee or slow-cooked pork belly bun at the buzzing Mansfield Coffee Merchant. Closer to Merrijig is The Mill Inn, a family-friendly restaurant that specialises in fresh pasta, including a scrumptious linguine with garlic prawns and broccoli. For something more meaty, the Hunt Club Hotel serves up steak that's as big as your head but far more tasty.
Mount Buller is made for outdoor enthusiasts. We opted for some sledding with the sprogs, cashing in on the discount for Play Shack guests at Black Mountain Equipment. Warmer weather is better suited to the winding bike and walking trails that criss-cross the Delatite River. Back down the mountain is the wonderfully peculiar Mansfield Zoo, where the beasties include white lions, water buffalo and an albino kangaroo called Casper. Our highlight was feeding hungry camels Basil and Cybil. If trout are more your taste, there are plenty of fish in the river, apparently – though they stayed well hidden from me.
Play Shack 2 is the perfect family getaway, with oodles of open space and activities to keep the kids occupied. The riverside setting is a relaxed way to pass the time together.
Dangling a fishing line in the river, without leaving your deck chair.
Almost running out of petrol while trying to find a service station nearby.
Peter Munro was a guest of Stayz and Play Shack 2.